Robin Gibb, A Bee Gee and symbol of disco era, dies at 62 (video)
Published: May 21, 2012 07:46AM
Updated: May 21, 2012 07:46AM
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In this March 6, 1979, file photo, Andy Gibb eats a cherry from his birthday cake at a party given by his family in his home in Miami Beach, Fla. A representative said on Sunday, May 20, 2012, Robin Gibb, has died. He was 62. (AP Photo/File)

Robin Gibb, one of the three singing brothers of the Bee Gees, the long-running Anglo-Australian pop group whose chirping falsettos and hook-laden disco hits like “Jive Talkin’” and “You Should Be Dancing” shot them to worldwide fame in the 1970s, died Sunday in London. He was 62 and lived in Thame, Oxfordshire, England.

The cause was complications of cancer and intestinal surgery, his family said in a statement.

Gibb had been hospitalized for intestinal problems several times in the past two years. Cancer had spread from his colon to his liver, and in the weeks before his death he had pneumonia and for a while was in a coma.

Gibb was the second Bee Gee and third Gibb brother to die. His fraternal twin and fellow Bee Gee, Maurice, died of complications of a twisted intestine in 2003 at 53. The youngest brother, Andy, who had a successful solo career, was 30 when he died of heart failure, in 1988.

With brilliant smiles, polished funk and adenoidal close harmonies, the Bee Gees — Barry, Robin and Maurice — were disco’s ambassadors to Middle America in the mid- to late 1970s.

They sold well over 100 million albums and had six consecutive No. 1 singles from 1977 to 1979. They were also inextricably tied to the disco era’s defining movie, “Saturday Night Fever,” a showcase for their music that included the hit “Stayin’ Alive,” its beat in step with the strut of the film’s star, John Travolta.

But the group, whose first record came out in 1963, had a history that preceded its disco hits, starting with upbeat ditties inspired by the Everly Brothers and the Beatles.

Robin Hugh Gibb and his twin, Maurice, were born on Dec. 22, 1949, on the Isle of Man, a British dependency in the Irish Sea. (Barry was born there in 1946.) The boys largely grew up in Manchester, England, where the family lived on the edge of poverty. Their father, Hugh, was a drummer and bandleader. Their mother, Barbara, was also a singer.

For many listeners, the Gibbs were the face of disco. Even “Sesame Street” got caught up in the trend, with Robin singing on the disco-themed album “Sesame Street Fever.”

In addition to his wife, Dwina Murphy, and his brother Barry, Gibb is survived by his sons, Spencer and Robin-John; his daughters, Melissa and Snow; a sister, Lesley; and his mother. An earlier marriage, to Molly Hullis, ended in divorce.